Women in Gaming speak about gaming in India, their challenges and opportunities | Digit


When you think about video games, it brings a cliched vision to mind about how it’s just a boys’ club – right from the people who make the games all the way down to the players who play their video games. It wasn’t untrue, at least for kids growing up in the 1980s and 90s, including yours truly. 

But circa 2023, the gaming paradigm is vastly different. Not only are there more girl gamers than ever before, not just in India but around the world, women have been making slow but steady progress in getting their numbers up across the gaming industry as a whole. As they rightly should, of course. The present state of women gamers in the country is nothing short of promising!

In this feature, we’ve tried to go beyond published reports and provide insights and information from a wide cross-section of women in Indian gaming – from senior women in leadership positions inside gaming companies based in India to female members of SKOAR! College Gaming Club. What are some of their experiences, good and bad, from the gaming industry, and what are some of their hopes and aspirations? We’ve done this to acknowledge their voice and contributions to the proliferation of gaming in India. Without further ado, here’s what the pioneering women gamers from India have to say.

Women in gaming we interviewed:

1) Shruti Verma – Business Lead, India/SEA, Epic Games

2) Annu Koul – Production Director, Ubisoft Pune

3) Saishree Ashwin – Business Development Lead, India/SEA, Epic Games

4) Harsha Malkan – Communication Director, Ubisoft India

5) Christelle D’cruz – Co-Founder, Engineering at SuperGaming

6) Pinki Naskar – Senior Animator, SuperGaming

7) Zerah Gonsalves – CEO, League of Extraordinary Gamers

8) Keerti Singh – Co-Founder, Hitwicket

9) Charuvi Agrawal – Founder, Charuvi Design Labs 

10) Rashi Chandra – Senior UI Artist, Garena

11) Sana Saiyyada – Gaming Marketing Professional

12) Neha Rai Sinha – Game Producer

13) Suriya Banu – “Hikari Gaming”

14) Kalyani Yadav – “Tokyoo Gaming”

15) Hayley’s Sphere – “Hayley’s Sphere”

16) Tania Chouhan – “Tania Gaming”

17) Nidhi Verma – “Nihu Verma”

18) Saloni Pawar – “meow16k”

19) Payal Dhare – “Payal Gaming”

20) Kaashvi Hiranandani – “KaashPlays”

Biggest Indian gaming myth?

You need to be a gamer to land up a job in the industry. Working in the gaming industry means playing games all day. The most common misconception is that you can’t make a career in the gaming industry. “Girls don’t like playing video games.” It’s time to get rid of this age-old myth. The gaming industry is vibrant, and inclusive and is filled with so many amazing talents both men and women.

–Harsha Malkan

Games in India are played by a homogenised, one-note audience. A cursory glance at the most popular games in India on the Google Play Store may suggest that India is largely a hyper-casual market, looking for a quick fix of easy-to-understand gameplay loops with short play sessions, usually less than 30 minutes. However, the player base, which we consider to be a crucial part of the industry, has more nuance than most would give it credit for.

–Christelle D’cruz

Indian users will not spend on in-app purchases inside games and the only way to monetise gamers in India is through ads–however, India is now a booming market for mobile gaming and is expected to reach $5 billion by 2025. Indian gamers will play only casual games, but the top-grossing mobile games in India are mid-core titles showing that Indian gamers look for deeper engagement in games.

–Keerti Singh

I think that people have this view that Indian game studios only outsource or imitate other games, but there are many cool games made by people here like Raji by Nodding Head Studios, Venba, and Possessions by Lucid Labs! I’m very excited to see what’s next.

–Rashi Chandra

There are certain segments of people who believe gaming is an addiction and should be avoided. Everything in excess is an addiction, gaming is all about skills, teamwork and an excellent form of entertainment. It is like any other sport.

–Sana Saiyyada

One of the most popular taboos is that “Gaming is a waste of time”. If an individual is determined towards a goal and is consistently working hard for it, gaming can serve so much more.

–Saloni Pawar

Overcoming negative behaviour

Yes, of course, I’m certain every woman in this industry has faced challenges. When it comes to online harassment/discrimination, I’ve become a lot better at ignoring hate comments. It’s very hard to break through any male-dominated industry, and oftentimes people will undermine your abilities and strengths simply because you’re a woman. But it’s very much a prerogative of mine to prove the sceptics wrong!

–Kaashvi Hiranandani

I had a lot of problems participating in Free Fire tournaments back in the day just because I had an all-girls team. But that didn’t stop us from being the best. As girls, we proved how good we are after winning the ‘Free Fire Diwali All-Star 2021’ tournament and many more.

–Hayley’s Sphere

Yes, I have faced challenges being a female game streamer. Key ones include having access to fewer opportunities in the ecosystem and a lack of female-friendly infrastructure in the competitive scene. For instance, there are very limited boot camps for female gamers in India.

–Kalyani Yadav

I wouldn’t call it a challenge but yeah I’ve always competed in male-dominated fields and I feel I’ve achieved a lot of milestones. There are hurdles and haters everywhere but my mindset is pretty strong to neglect everything but my goals.

–Tania Gaming

In terms of gaming and looks, I have to deal with lots of harassment: being teased for my appearance, and disregarding my gaming skills. As a girl gamer, it was very challenging for me to grow and survive in the community after being trolled or judged by others, but I am blessed to have my parent’s support, and my audience too stood by my side in my journey as a Youtuber.

–Payal Dhare

Like any other male-dominated industry, one tends to maybe feel a little misplaced if you happen to be the opposite sex moving bricks with them. But that could happen in any social set-up where there’s a gender imbalance. Happens to guys too! You just have to keep proving yourself, which just makes one tougher and better at what they do and that’s exactly how I overcame these challenges.

–Zerah Gonsalves

(Un)Changing the video games industry

The industry has changed in terms of cutting-edge tech, art and immersion. However, the core concepts of making a game that is fun and social are still important. Esports has lent a very interesting opportunity to gamers, allowing them to demonstrate their mental acumen to win E-sports championships. The entire mobile gaming ecosystem is now capable of creating job opportunities and contributing significantly to a country’s economy.

–Keerti Singh

Early on in the gaming industry, it was thought that women would be in support roles like marketing rather than core game development. That’s rapidly changing. However, at the same time, female character representation in gaming isn’t what it should be, as portrayals of women as helpless or even accessories are still widespread.

–Christelle D’cruz

I see a big change already in the ecosystem. The gaming industry is going through a monumental evolution in India and is getting recognition on a national stage as a sport. With this increased magnitude of acceptance, women can be taking up skilled positions in gaming companies, could even advocate the ed-tech sector for gaming, and maybe even go ahead and win an e-World Cup.

–Zerah Gonsalves

As a child, I thought video games were all glitz and glamour. What I didn’t see then but realised later was the hard work, creativity, intelligence, and courage to make incredible games. The industry has continuously been changing and evolving. When I entered the industry, especially in India, it was probably not even considered a long-term industry. I’d have friends and relatives frown when they heard that I am part of a company that makes games. Now people understand the industry a bit better.

–Annu Koul

There are so many women who work tirelessly and with such passion in the games industry. My interaction with each of them has been inspirational. I have worked with an all-women team in my previous job, and I continue working with some very dedicated women in my current role. There is something to learn from each of them.

–Saishree Ashwin

Gaming challenges and opportunities?

India has a very large young population, which can allow for a massive industry spawning hardware (gaming requires very high-end PCs), software development and development of unique IP. India needs to have its own ecosystem of console and mobile gaming. Secondly, we need good game makers who create enjoyable games. Indian gaming has the potential to become an insurmountable industry if it gets the required support from the government and entrepreneurs.

–Charuvi Agarwal

India is one of the fastest-growing gaming markets with one of the largest gamer bases. What the industry desperately needs is regulations, government support which we have now and most importantly thought leaders. Industry experts have this unsaid responsibility to provide direction and a platform for people to nurture their skills and talent.

–Sana Saiyyada

Unlike other industries, in mobile games, you are competing with the top global games and gaming talent from day one. Users have a choice to play your game or Clash of Clans or PUBG. Hence, the content that we make for Indian gamers needs to be world-class!

–Keerti Singh

There is no profile in game development where we do not see women today. Increasingly we have seen more women picking up gaming as a hobby as well as a career path. The gaming industry is definitely a great place for women who want to break away from traditional career paths to take the road less travelled to create something of their own.

–Annu Koul

The gaming industry needs to have more women in leadership roles and as part of development teams. The industry needs to promote a culture that is inclusive of women and promotes gender equality. The gaming industry should create a safe and respectful environment that does not tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind. We need to create more games that feature female protagonists and storylines that resonate with women gamers.

–Payal Dhare

Women’s gaming career boost?

I try to lead by example, by providing a platform to engage and create a community where we enable women to share and collaborate. We have always empowered women in the industry equally. With the Women Creators Program, girls and women in tech are providing adequate resources, training, and mentoring to women creators. Even at Nasscom, I was fortunate to be part of initiatives like starting shared services for childcare for member companies, technical training for women in IT and mentorship programs.

–Shruti Verma

The social role of women is evolving in the direction of taking different kinds of professions. So why not in the gaming industry? This is a great career where people can use their imagination without fear and hesitation. However, having more women in the spotlight would help. When we know there are other women we can look up to and learn from, it makes it easier for others to chart a career.

–Pinki Naskar

It’s important for all the young women who want to work in this industry to understand that if this is your passion, gender isn’t a deterrent. I continue to help the dev communities and that is my job and my passion.

–Saishree Ashwin

I demand and expect an inclusive environment in the workplace. This is achieved by ensuring everyone’s voice is heard and fostering a culture of respect and acceptance. Since I’ve walked this path, I take great pride in being able to mentor and inspire others by sharing my experiences, providing advice and offering perspective to challenges faced by others.

–Annu Koul

Firstly, we are always looking for women members to fill our vacancies, we believe that this adds value to us and will to the industry. While I myself am not an avid gamer, I constantly encourage women to enter this industry as I love the art side of it as part of my passion. I emphasise this message at women-focused forums and to aspiring women creators and artists.

–Charuvi Agarwal

Advice for young gamers?

If you’re a woman and you want to get into the Esports community, you need to have a strong mentality to let go of bullies and only step forward and get back on your feet if you fall — there’s no backing out. More tournaments, campaigns, events, get togethers can just help you get immersed into the gaming industry in a more interactive way!

–Saloni Pawar

Women thinking of a career in gaming should take suggestions from someone in the industry who has more experience with the community. Pursuing a career in gaming can be challenging, so it’s important to be persistent in your goals. I would love to encourage more women to become involved in gaming as creators and game developers, as gaming needs more women to bring their unique perspectives and talents.

–Payal Dhare

I don’t think women need encouragement, there are already so many women who have a deep interest in gaming and particularly in Esports. Massively competitive personalities already exist amongst women, I think it’s just a matter of finding these women who are already performing very well and providing them with resources to help push their careers, similar to what happened with me.

–Kaashvi Hiranandani

Get into it. It is fun, has money and is a growing industry. Yes, the hours can be crazy but it is a step up for our gender.

–Charuvi Agarwal

My advice would be to find what you truly are passionate about in gaming. It’s very easy to like something at the beginning, but it’s super hard to stick to it if it does not excite you. Dip your hands in all kinds of roles in the industry — streaming, casting, league operations, marketing, game design, coding, and content creation are a few examples that I have personally worked in.

–Zerah Gonsalves

I believe that video games are a great tool for learning and education. While I understand that violent games are not for everyone, there are so many other genres that can be explored. I hope that more women enter this industry. There is so much to do: Create worlds, teach, and have fun!

–Rashi Chandra

Believe in yourself and focus on achieving what you want to. Everything else is a distraction and can be handled accordingly.

–Keerti Singh

Gaming as a viable career opportunity is on the rise in India. There is a rising demand for professionals in this field, which its not just limited to artists to programmers to designers to audio engineers. There are many exciting job roles, and not just about game development or art: we have project managers, product managers, R&D specialists, dancers, musicians, and so many more. Imagine that!

–Harsha Malkan

If you have the passion and the talent, gender will never be a deterrent.

–Saishree Ashwin

If gaming’s your area of interest and you want to make it your career, stay focused and leave no stone unturned. Chase opportunities, make mistakes, and learn from them. Learn each day no matter how great you become. Work hard but don’t forget to enjoy life.

–Sana Saiyyada

I see women taking on more roles in the gaming space, not just limited to being Esports athletes or content creators. More towards operations and development roles as well. I believe we are on the right path, the industry is already evolving to be more inclusive. We just need to keep doing what we are doing, which means keep gaming on girls!

–Suriya Banu

I know that Indian parents don’t support their girls so much in gaming, in fact, my parents also did not support me in the beginning but I assured them and today they feel proud of me. So you can also face this kind of problem but you should not give up and fight further. Just improve your skills because a lot is going to happen in the Indian gaming industry.

–Nidhi Verma

Don’t be discouraged from what appears to be a male-dominated field, your contribution and perspective matter as much if not more. It’s important that you work with people who see your gender as only one part of a multi-faceted identity. That you’re a woman is important to bring diverse perspectives to the future of Indian gaming.

–Christelle D’cruz

SCGC Girl Gamers Corner

Thanks to SKOAR! College Gaming Club (SCGC), young girl gamers from different parts of India also described their gaming experiences:

My Dad’s an OG gamer, and he still plays games from his school years. He started with cassette games (Super Mario, Galaxian and Pac-Man in arcades) to Call of Duty, Age of Empires in my childhood. My first exposure to gaming was sitting and watching my Dad play AoE.

–Kankana Bhowmick, 21, Kolkata, West Bengal

I feel like female characters are made according to the male gaze, they are over-sexualized you know curvy and all that. Another thing I’ve noticed is that male characters are mostly aggressive while female characters are given healing powers and stuff.

–Joyee Hriday, 19, Guwahati, Assam

Gaming is a great stress-buster. It helps me challenge my alternate self. Gaming has taught me how to be effective in teams. I wasn’t a team player before but gaming has changed that.

–Shifa Afreen Siddiqui, 20, Kolkata, West Bengal

My parents don’t have a problem with me playing video games as I play in my free time and don’t skip studying. I don’t believe I am addicted to gaming so I can balance it pretty well.

–Ananya Gupta, 18, New Delhi



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